Teen Killed by Flesh-Eating Bacteria after Wisdom Teeth Extraction
Flesh-Eating Bacteria Listed as Cause of Death
According to the Portland Press Herald, Benjamin LaMontagne, 18 of Long Island, Maine, died on February 22 at his home just days after having oral surgery to extract four wisdom teeth. The medical examiner’s report lists the cause of death as cervical necrotizing fasciitis – commonly known as flesh-eating bacteria.
LaMontagne began exhibiting symptoms shortly after the procedure on Feb. 19. LaMontagne experience swelling in his jaw that also spread to his eyes. On Feb. 22, LaMontagne’s condition deteriorated to the point where he was unable to get to the bathroom without his mother’s assistance. When his mom left the room and returned a short while later, she found her son leaning against a wall and unable to respond verbally. Emergency crews were called to the house, and LaMontagne was pronounced dead shortly after.
Dr. Thomas Dodson, professor and chair of the Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery at the University of Washington, told the Press Herald that about one in 20 people will experience some type of infection after oral surgery. A large majority of those people will only require additional antibiotics; however, about three in 100,000 patients require more extensive medical care.
About Flesh-Eating Bacteria
Necrotizing fasciitis, or flesh-eating bacteria, is caused by a rare strain of streptococcus A. Streptococcus A is commonly found on the skin and throat and most commonly causes strep throat. The Centers for Disease Control estimate as many as 600 to 850 cases of necrotizing fasciitis infection in the U.S. each year. Treatment for flesh-eating bacteria involves the removal of dead tissue and administration of antibiotics.
Dodson told the Press Herald that he had treated three cases of necrotizing fasciitis in his career. He noted that patients typically spend two-four weeks in the hospital, usually in intensive care, and undergo multiple surgeries to remove dead tissue.